Covid-19 update, Students joining school,  staff certified as micro-business trainers, official launch of Rotary-funded agricultural business training, new families join our programs, sponsors needed, and photos of the month.

Covid-19 curve flattens, Kenya's night curfew lifted, and United Kenya Rising staff get vaccinated


Nelson Ida, the UKR Administrator, receiving a Moderna shot at the Care Centre during a vaccine drive held on October 5th, 2021

The Covid-19 situation in Kenya has greatly improved as the fourth wave has flattened, even as the economy continues to struggle.  Meanwhile, the lessening of a Covid-19 vaccine shortage has enabled nearly all UKR staff to get vaccinated. 

Hospitals in Kenya now have enough beds available. New confirmed daily Covid-19 infections have been around 50 to 200 per day for the last few weeks, with single-digit numbers of Covid-related deaths each day. The test positivity rate has remained well-below 5% for the last few weeks. 

On October 20th, the President of Kenya announced the immediate lifting of a strict nationwide overnight curfew that had been in effect since the beginning of the pandemic. Many Kenyans are very happy that they can now engage in work, travel, and leisure at night without fear of being arrested for being out of their homes after 10pm.  The economy will hopefully improve without restrictions on night movement. Other Covid-19 control measures like mask mandates remain in place.

In other good news, there was a vaccination drive held in early October at the UKR offices. Nearly all United Kenya Rising staff got their first jab and most selected the Moderna vaccine, which had just arrived in Kakamega a few weeks before. Others chose AstraZeneca. Very shortly, these same staff members will get their second shots and soon after that they will have robust protection from Covid-19. 

Vaccine skepticism is a major challenge in Kenya, just as it is in the United States, and we are thrilled that UKR staff can now confidently advocate Covid-19 vaccination to the families they serve because they themselves are vaccinated. In fact, the UKR Public Health staff have already prepared a series of questions to bring to all families we serve, constituting a Socratic Method “pitch” for vaccination. They’re prepared to answer all questions, and also prepared to facilitate transport - if needed - for those people to visit the nearest government clinics offering free Covid-19 vaccination. 

Covid-19 is not going away any time soon, even though the situation is better for now. We are pleased that UKR staff are now more protected from this dangerous virus, and equally pleased that these same staff are now in a good position to promote and advocate for vaccination more widely in the communities where they live and work.


Kenya's fourth Covid-19 wave has flattened

Education on track: 123 students join high schools, universities, and vocational training centers


Students joining university received laptops before reporting to campus

The new high school students, each accompanied by a parent or guardian.

It is with great excitement that we share the news of 72 students joining high schools, 18 young scholars joining university, and 33 young people joining vocational training institutions. 

With a lot of hard work from staff in Kenya and the students themselves, these 123 learners are advancing their education and reaching their next step in life.  

For the 72 new high school students that joined in early August, a large majority are attending low-cost day schools rather than boarding schools. Previously, before the new Family Care model, we were mostly supporting sponsored students at boarding schools because life at home was too difficult. However, with daily life at home improving through other elements of the Family Care model, we feel confident that day scholars will be able to thrive in school while living at home. Meanwhile, top students who were admitted to prestigious government boarding schools are being supported to attend the schools to which they were called, an opportunity they had worked tirelessly to achieve, giving them the best education possible. 

All of the 18 students who joined universities in September are under a partial government scholarship known as “direct entry to university.” They earned this by scoring in the top 19% of students nationwide in their high school exit exams.  They are now attending various universities across Kenya, from Kakamega all the way to the coast. Top-scorer Ann is undertaking a B.Sc in Applied Computing, followed by Caleb and Felix who are studying for degrees in Civil Engineering and Economics, respectively. Other degree fields this group of students are now studying include education, biomedical science, laboratory technology, and French language. We hope all of you join us in offering a hearty congratulations to all these students who worked so hard to make their university dreams come true. 

The 33 students joining vocational training courses will learn hands-on skills in a wide variety of subjects. These one to two year courses will equip the learners with trade skills that will bring them immediate opportunities in self-employment or informal employment. In time, many may find formal, career jobs as well.  The types of courses these youth are studying include everything from electrical wiring to hairdressing to hospitality.  All of these vocational students will live at home or with extended family and source their own living expenses, food, and transportation. Meanwhile, they have assurance that all of their courses’ modest tuition and required learning materials are being funded by United Kenya Rising. 

The rapid growth of our scholarship support for high school and post-high school students is made possible by you, our sponsors and donors. It is greatly assisted by two major gifts received in the last year that have seeded our new Education Fund (to be officially announced early next year). Under our new Family Care model, students and their families are also pitching in much more, further reducing costs quite significantly.  

Congratulations once again to all these students!


Chrispinus, a vocational student in carpentry who started his training earlier this year, hammers a nail into a sofa he's making at home to practice his new skills and make some money on the side. Social worker Ronicah looks on.


Vallary packs up high school requirements that she'll use for living and studying

Two staff members certified as Street Business School trainers


We are proud to announce that social worker Lucy Khasoa and agriculture officer Dennis Mutimba have graduated from Street Business School, an innovative train-the-trainer program. 

Lucy and Dennis are now certified by Street Business School to train needy people as they become successful micro-entrepreneurs. The curriculum they will now teach, and share with their colleagues, includes topics like researching local market opportunities, business planning, starting small, confidence-building, record keeping, and other hands-on business skills. 

Congratulations Lucy and Dennis! 

"Strong & Healthy Families" Rotary Global Grant program is officially launched


The official ribbon-cutting of the new agricultural business training program. At right, Family Care guardians who will be program trainees. At left, members of Kakamega Rotary Club.

A couple of weeks ago this agricultural business training program was officially launched at a small ceremony in Namirama village.

The event was hosted by one of the families to be trained, and attended by Kakamega Rotarians, UKR staff, program interns, and program trainees from Namirama and nearby Navakholo villages.

Led by seven farm interns hired just for this purpose, the Strong & Healthy Families program will enhance agriculture business skills for 120 families, starting with 62 families over the coming one year. The program’s primary focus will be inspiration to engage in new ventures through site visits, videos, and guest speakers that will provide exposure to new crops, markets, and methods. 

Special thanks to individual donors and the Rotary Club of Freeport, Maine for sponsoring the program; gratitude to the Rotary Club of Kakamega for hosting it; and great appreciation to Rotary District 7780 (Maine and New Hampshire) and The Rotary Foundation for matching donations that provided funding.

New families join our programs


Although the father (right) from this newly-joined family is blind, he expressed immense joy and gratitude for the family's newly-received SunKing solar lantern that provides light for his children's studying, eating, and living after dark

Since December last year we have brought many new families into our Family Care programming. Many of these families’ stories are heartbreaking, but we believe with several years of intensive support their trajectories can be turned around and they may all rise and stay out of poverty.

The new group of families is more diverse than ever, with a larger proportion than before of religious and tribal minorities. The new group of families were carefully selected by a broad intake process so that only the very neediest were accepted. These families were referred to us by our own Regional Coordinators (community matriarchs often called “The Women”), as well as village chiefs, school principals, Rotary Club of Kakamega, and other charitable organizations. And joyfully, the new group of families will be helped more effectively than before through a new system that provides customized assistance tailored around each family’s needs. 

These new families are all unique, so the support being offered to each is also unique. The range of programs to assist them includes high school and vocational scholarships, social work visits, agriculture training, and a flexible “Family Care budget” to help where it is needed most in areas like educational fees and supplies, living conditions, health insurance, seeds and fertilizer, and small business start-up capital. 

Example #1 of a new family in our program: helping a child from the streets find his home 

One of the new families was referred to us by an organization in Kisumu City that had rescued a young boy living on the streets. With our help reintegrating him, the boy is now living in a family home with his uncle, two siblings, and five cousins. The uncle is single and has a lot on his plate in terms of mouths to feed, but he’s very hard-working. The living situation was previously very bad for all the kids, yet with Family Care program support he’s been able to purchase school uniforms and shoes for all the kids, construct a new pit latrine, and begin engaging in vegetable farming that is now providing both income from veggie sales and better nutrition for all the children. The boy who was rescued has become part of the family and he now smiles all the time.

Example #2 of a new family in our program: assisting a family feeling homeless to build a home and ensure all the children return to school

The conditions in which this new family lived were the worst our staff had ever seen among all families we serve. One of the walls of their house has fallen down completely and exposed them to the elements, meanwhile their roof was at severe risk of total collapse, and two rotting boards over an exposed pit served as a latrine. They felt homeless and for safety reasons they usually begged various neighbors to stay over for the night. The family’s situation was brought to our staffs’ attention by a local administrator who had realized they’re the worst-off family in his entire district.

When this family joined our programs we immediately dispatched our public health officer Beryl (who is one of our graduates), and she worked with that government administrator to identify resources that the local community could pull together in helping the family fix their living situation. The construction is now complete and with help from us, from the community, and through the hard work of the family themselves, they now have a traditional semi-permanent home that's very much habitable, as well as a hygienic and private pit latrine. The three girls (ages 8, 9, and 12) had missed a lot of school before, but now all three of them are proceeding well in second grade together, and they have what they need to study well and sleep with full stomach’s and happy hearts.

We look forward to working with this family further to help the mother, a widow, so that she can improve her farming, access healthcare for the family, and start a small business venture to stand on her own two feet and provide for her three girls. On the mother’s part, whereas before she was too traumatized to speak more than a mumbled sentence, today she is joyful in her new home, she is often smiling, and she's become quite talkative. 


A mother and her two daughters, one of the new families to join our programs this year


A girl holds her little sister; they're part of a new family to join our programs


A new family that joined this year; they're one of the largest families and a case where the impact of farm productivity training and access to healthcare is truly huge

Sponsors needed for the new families

We need new sponsorships to help us support these new families. There are many more whose stories we didn't have space to share here. We invite anyone who is considering becoming a new sponsor to join us as we work hand-in-hand with these families so they can make a better life for themselves. 

Sponsors get to know they're making a tremendous difference as part of something bigger than themselves. As well, they receive occasional stories, photos, and updates about the family they support, and they also have an (optional) opportunity to exchange letters with one or more members of the family they are assisting.

If you or someone you know is willing to consider joining us as a sponsor, we'd love to discuss the possibility. We ask those interested to reach out to our Sponsorship Coordinator Carra McFadden at carra@friendsofkenyarising.org or 802-490-0522.  You can also become a sponsor online by clicking here to visit the Sponsorship page on our website. 

Photos of the Month


A woman shows off some of the items she sells as part of a business income project that was supported by UKR. This picture was the winner from our most recent Photos of the Month contest.

Every month we make one album of the best photos that our staff take during their work.  We then vote on these to come up with the Top Ten photos for each month. 

Click here​ to view the most recent set of "Photos of the Month."


Brother and sister smiling, one of the top-ranked photos from July's photos of the month contest


A young woman during freshman admission day at the Care Centre; this was another top-voted photo


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